One of the most important skills that children need to learn is how to become independent adults. As part of the village that leads them, it is the responsibility of the surrounding adults to guide them along the way. Teachers, parents, and caregivers must show kids how to perform activities successfully on their own. This process begins when toddlers first learn to walk without help, soon after they figure out how to run, shortly thereafter they can go up and down steps. During this time, they also learn how to dress, take care of their own personal hygiene and openly express their needs. This is all happens along the road to independence.
Why are Montessori practical life activities important in the pre-school years?
It has been argued by professionals that childhood is just a natural phase leading to adulthood. Montessori practical life activities are based on preparing kids for the future. Just like Maria Montessori always understood, the process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood is innate. However, it is the responsibility of parents and caregivers to instill a solid foundation of life skills and work habits. Children need to learn how to take responsibility for the proper care of their environment, community and their future family and home. These important skills need to be ingrained at an early age to allow children to have faith in their own capabilities as they are developing the self-discipline that will carry them far throughout life.
For each development plane, there is a sensitive span of time for varying skills and activities. It is vital that the right stimulation is provided at the proper stage in a child’s natural development. At about the age of three, children may enter Montessori preschool and start to participate in practical life activities. This is a transitional time when the child’s school activities coincide with familiar exercises at home.
Kids at this stage love to help out adults with their chores and activities. When helpfulness is encouraged, children learn that their contributions are valuable. This is a powerful self-esteem booster that will lead to independence. Directly, practical life Montessori activities encourage independence and social skills. Indirectly, the benefits include the development of fine motor skills combined with stronger concentration, and intellect, and personal will.
Practical life in the pre-school classroom
In the Montessori classroom, the practical life area is where special activities with a very unique purpose take place. To the naked adult eye, these exercises may appear repetitive and pointless, but to a young child who has just learned how to fold a napkin or wash down a table, they come with a great sense of accomplishment. When done properly these activities can be very calming for pre-school aged students. What is actually happening is: